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Noni, Baloney, Puddin' & Pie is a collection of stories about the author's three great loves - his wife, food and travel.
Dr. Lenny Karpman's wife is Joan Hall JD, called "Juanita" by their Costa Rican friends and community and "Noni" by their children and "Granny or Grandma Noni" by five grandchildren. Hence the title.
He apprenticed in the kitchen of an acclaimed French chef, catered weddings, Christenings, non-profit fund raisers and parties for more than a hundred people at a time. He reviewed restaurants for the Pacific Sun in Northern California, and wrote about sixty food columns and restaurant reviews for AM Costa Rica. Overall, his stories have appeared in magazines (Salon, Troika, San Francisco Medicine), newspapers (Dallas Morning News, Newark Star Ledger, Pittsburgh Post Gazette), on line ( Travelers' Tales Editor's Choice, AM Costa Rica), in book form (Chana's Legacy) and as a chapter in an anthology (Best Travel Writing 2005).
Noni and Lenny have visited about seventy different countries together. She exudes friendly charm and affords them unique opportunity to look behind the scenes in markets, kitchens of restaurants and dining rooms of local people of all social stations. His bridge into cultural intimacy is food. Asking about ingredients, cooking techniques, culinary traditions and history, medicinal food folklore and unique flavors, he unleashes indigenous exuberance and pride. Together they often get to break bread with people in their homes according to local custom and to view foreign ways through local eyes.
The collection is quite varied. Some chapters are nearly encyclopedic about locations and cuisine (Tunisia , Sicily, Singapore). Others are quixotic and humorous (Succotash, The Grass Pig, Brown Water - Blue Ice, Aphrodisiacs, We Were What We Ate). A few deal with a particular food in many different countries (sausages, dumplings, asafoetida). Others take the reader along to a Borneo upriver longhouse of former headhunters, into Nepal's Royal Chitwan Park on elephant back, to the home of the world's first tree huggers on the edge of India's Thar Desert, to an indigenous matriarchy in south west China in the Himalaya foothills, along the Nile Delta in pursuit of a better pun, into hospitable homes in Syria, on a fantasy quest in Portugal, to pay homage at Auschwitz, to the Okavango Delta in Botswana and with the wildebeest migration in Kenya and Tanzania.
Four food lovers who have lived all over the world and are authors, cooks or both said of Noni Baley, Puddin & Pie - "A mouthwatering must read for the traveler and/or food lover by a gifted author, accomplished chef and sensitive observer of different cultures" "A global feast of images, information and even recipes" "His recipe (for the book) includes lots of love, bits of tenderness, half a cup of humor, limitless curiosity, cultural sensitivity, gallons of research and a dash of medical knowledge - all simmered in sauce of flowing description and vivid detail." "I found myself wanting to follow in his footsteps and try it all."
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